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The US Capitol Building from a distance.

Build Back Better Energy Rebates for Businesses

The US Capitol Building from a distance.

As the government works to pass both the Infrastructure social elements of the Build Back Better Plan in what have turned out to be two different pieces of legislation, businesses may have lost sight of some of the key features of the plan. Energy efficiency at home and in the workplace are vital elements in the race to reduce carbon emissions now, as well as meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

We’re taking a look at some of the rebates and programs in place that businesses can take advantage of.

Supporting Solar Panel Manufacturing

A large part of the Build Back Better energy legislation is to support the growth of green energy industries. The bill’s most important element is extending the number of years existing credits are eligible for those who qualify. For consumers, this means a 30% reduction in rooftop solar installation, which should greatly increase demand.

The bill also calls for up to $2 billion to improve energy and water efficiency in multifamily affordable housing. The provides an excellent opportunity to have a positive impact on energy use on a much larger scale than individual households as well as empower residents to see themselves as a part of the green movement.

Targeting States with the Highest Emissions

One late addition to the bill focuses on investing in home and small businesses with energy-specific infrastructure improvements. The $250 million program includes revolving loans, with a stipulation that 60% of the program’s funds will be targeted towards the 15 states with the highest energy use per capita.

This element supports updates that expand tax incentives for both residential and commercial upgrades to existing structures. It also proposes what are terms “deep energy retrofits” of commercial buildings.

This offers commercial manufacturing facilities a number of opportunities to access funds to reduce energy expenses and meet both mandatory and voluntary sustainability goals.

Work with an Energy Efficiency Expert

While more details on this legislation are still to come, we’re already working with clients to identify the renewable energy programs, loans, and grants best suited to their needs. We know that every industry will need to adapt to meet the climate crisis as well as stay competitive in a challenging business environment.

Let’s get started. Contact Keen Technical Solutions to reduce your commercial energy expenses today.

An indoor cannabis facility which would benefit from federal cannabis legalization.

Cannabis Legalization: New Push to End Federal Prohibition

While talk of cannabis legalization increased in during the 2020 election and into President Biden’s first year in office, perhaps the most important move toward legalization at the federal level came from unexpected quarters.

On November 15, a Republican member of the House Nancy Mace introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition on cannabis.

The legislation would focus on the inclusion of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act. The move would remove the Schedule I designation and allow states to treat cannabis and cannabis products like alcohol. That includes a federal age limit of 21 years old, though states may be allowed to add exceptions to that age limit based on medical need.

Cannabis and Interstate Commerce

Most importantly, the bill would shift away from state-based commerce laws. There are 36 states that allow recreational and medical marijuana, but few of those states have identical laws and requirements. Mace’s bill would allow interstate commerce, as well as improve access for cannabis producers and distributors to access financial services.

GOP Cannabis Bill Similar to Democrat Plan

The GOP effort meets many of the same talking points as the Sen. Schumer-sponsored bill from the spring of 2021. Both remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s list and allow for both banking access and interstate commerce. Schumer’s plan included a 10% excise tax, which would increase to 25% five years after the bill becomes law. Mace’s plan proposes a 3% tax, with no increase for the first 10 years.

Related Content: Energy Consumption Tips for Cannabis Facilities

Mace Cannabis Bill Sees Industry Support

While the bill lacks many of the social justice efforts included in Schumer’s draft, most notably fewer allowances for drug arrest record expungement, the cannabis industry largely supports the proposed bill. The lower tax rate, more lenient sentencing, and financial considerations all indicate an understanding of the challenges facing the cannabis space.

 

Cannabis Legalization: What’s Missing

Of course, Mace’s bill makes no mention of sustainability or energy-based requirements on cannabis production. Despite well-documented and skyrocketing energy use by the cannabis industry, Mace’s bill offers little direction in ensuring the industry grows responsibly. We would like to see grants and rebate programs funding by the federal government to reward cannabis facilities that invest in growing more efficiently and more responsibly.

Let’s Grow Together

At Keen Technical Solutions, we’re working with cannabis facilities to keep the cannabis industry green. From LED lights to advanced environmental control systems, we bring more than a decade of energy efficiency expertise to the marijuana business. Contact Keen Technical Solutions today to get started.

Small business owners examine energy expenses.

Renewable Energy for Small Business

No matter the size of your business, there are some important benefits to adding renewable energy sources to your facilities. Energy bills are some of the most challenging expenses for a small business. One of the toughest parts of managing energy expenses is their unpredictability. Done right, renewable energy can stabilize monthly expenses to make them easier to budget for, not to mention lower them across the board.

Solar for Small Business

Solar energy for small business owners is one of the ideal solutions to lowering energy costs and reducing exposure to utility grid price fluctuations. The costs of solar energy have dropped considerably in the past several years, making the technology more accessible and more affordable to a wider range of commercial enterprises. Installation on foods, walls, parking lots, or walls offers myriad opportunities to tailer the panels for maximum efficiency.Small business owners examine energy expenses.

The addition of energy storage to solar is especially advantageous. Depending on your energy needs, energy storage batteries could cover many of your energy needs during low-demand periods like overnight or in the evening.

Wind Energy for Small Businesses

Wind energy is extremely efficient and, like solar, the cost for wind turbines has fallen dramatically. The challenge for wind energy implementation is often space. Small businesses like farms which have the space to install the right number of turbines to generate the power they need.

In urban settings, it is possible to install smaller turbines on top of buildings, though these may only contribute a modest amount of electricity.

Geothermal Heat Pumps for Small Businesses

Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of the early constant temperatures to heat or cool buildings. Using a ground heat exchanger, air delivery system, and heat pump unit, this system can significantly lower energy costs associated with heating and cooling offices, factories, restaurants, and retail centers.

While the initial cost of geothermal can be intimidating, it also offers one of the quickest return on investment, especially in places that see hot summers and frigid winters and need to actively regulate indoor temperatures year-round.

It All Starts with Energy Efficiency

Small business owners can make a big impact on their energy expenses by focusing on energy efficiency before adding renewable energy. As energy efficiency consultants, we help business owners and facility managers identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs through:

  • Improved HVAC efficiency
  • Automated lighting systems
  • LED light fixtures
  • Improved insulation
  • And more!

Bring Renewable Energy to Your Small Business

The first step to taking control of your energy expenses is a call to Keen Technical Solutions. Let’s get started. Call or email Keen today and we’ll schedule an on-site energy consultation with your team.

Photo of a remote thermal energy plant in Iceland.

What is Geothermal? A Brief Guide to Geothermal Heating for Business

Businesses are always looking for ways to reduce their energy expenses, stay competitive, and meet both industry and internal sustainability goals. We constantly tell clients that the key to meeting those green business goals is to incorporate many tools and find energy solutions in a number of ways, rather than just looking for a silver bullet. One of the technologies we’re implementing more and more often is geothermal. 

What is Geothermal Energy Good For?

Geothermal taps into the constant heat generated by the core of the planet. That internal heat is constant, generated by the molten iron core that makes up the center of the earth, geothermal energy is a renewable energy source with loads of potential. 

The Pros and Cons of Geothermal Energy

There are some benefits to geothermal that often go overlooked. In addition to being renewable, geothermal is an option in more places than you think. More than 50% of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the earth’s surface. However, geothermal is much more efficient in areas in close proximity to geothermal activity. 

Even if geothermal is an option in most places, it is worth noting that not all geothermal is created equal. The most common application of geothermal technology is via a heat pump. Most commercial geothermal heating units cost somewhere around  $30,000 or more,  but with a large impact; most of these heating systems can reduce your energy bill by at much as 80%. That means a short-term ROI that also provides plenty of positive impact on the earth itself, too by reducing or eliminating the need for fossil fuels. Photo of a remote thermal energy plant in Iceland.

Geothermal Grants, Programs, and Tax Deductions

Many municipalities, states, and even federal programs offer a number of options to make financing geothermal heating more accessible for businesses. Some notable federal programs include those associated with EnergyStar, the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, and the US Small Business Association. Keen Technical Solutions also works with clients to identify and pursue more local, regional, and state funding opportunities to make investing in renewable energy sources like geothermal more affordable. 

Commercial Benefits of Sustainable Energy

Investing in geothermal and other renewable energy sources does more than just save money in the long term. There are some substantial benefits, including:

  • More than 58% of consumers are more likely to support businesses with environmental programs and renewable energy practices
  • Businesses with sustainability and green energy programs are more successful in recruiting and retaining a strong workforce
  • Business leaders who invest in renewable energy outperform those who do not by more than 25% in the stock market 

For goods-focused businesses, savings come out in the bottom line. A 10% reduction in overall energy costs, for example, can boost net profit margins by 1.55% and increase sales per square foot by $25. In the restaurant industry, that same 10% energy reduction can boost net profit margins by 4% and sales per square foot by $17. 

Geothermal Has a Part to Play in Your Renewable Energy System

Geothermal heating can contribute to your complete renewable energy system by contributing to lowered heating expenses. This can help open up new opportunities to increase energy efficiency throughout your facility by improving air circulation and ventilation, implementing energy storage capabilities, and using solar panels to let the sun replace your current reliance on the grid-scale utilities. 

Get More from Less with Geothermal Heating and Geothermal Energy

Learn about effective ways to utilize energy from the earth’s core with Keen Technical Solutions. We’ll include the applicability and effectiveness of geothermal heating for your location as well as identify ways to better reduce and produce energy onsite to lower expenses and give you more control over the future of your business. Let’s save money and the planet. 

Get started and contact Keen Technical Solutions today. 

wind turbines whirl away as the sun sets near a tidal shoreline.

Build Back Better: How Much Renewable Energy Investment Survived?

After months of negotiation, bickering, and posturing, the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better plan is a shade of its former self. Few political insiders believed the bill would make it through Congress intact, but many would have been shocked to see just how much of the infrastructure plan ended up on the cutting room floor. 

The Build Back Better Plan’s Reduced Budget

The plan as it was initially drafted totaled $3.5 billion. As October turns to November, the bill could be described as trimmed down or gutted, depending on your point of view. The proposal as it stands now comes in at $1.75 billion, though some important renewable energy elements have survived with budget allocations that could do some real good. 

How Much Renewable Energy Investment Remains in the Build Back Better Budget?

While there is still some way to go before the bill might be considered in its final form, some of the totals for renewable energy investment seem to have found fixed totals. The bill is expected to include:

  • $320 billion for clean energy tax credits
  • $105 billion for resilience investments
  • $110 billion for clean energy technology, manufacturing, and supply chains
  • $20 billion for clean energy procurement. 

In total, clean energy investment should stay around $555 billion. 

How Will the Build Back Better Money Be Spent?

Dispersing the funds will take time. As the money is allocated, it will reach private citizens, businesses, communities, and organizations dedicated to supporting renewable energy investment. Some of the most accessible funds will be made available via rebates and credits. These programs include focused support of reducing energy use as well as cutting the cost of solar panels by up to 30% for most households. 

What About Renewable Energy Production?

The original focus of the bill was always to boost employment numbers. That effort is alive with substantial investment to support the production of wind turbines and solar panels, even electric cars, from US-sourced materials in US-based factories. The program will create hundreds of thousands of long-term jobs to support the renewable energy industry as a whole.

Build Back Better Framework

The White House released an updated copy of its Build Back Better framework before the last weekend in October. The document highlights both the energy-focused elements of the bill as well as other key promises made to support more Americans, including $400 billion of childcare and $150 for housing.  

The Investment We’ve Been Waiting For

Private companies have long worked ahead of the US government when it comes to growing and implementing renewable energy. The new investment from the public sector should both accelerate this focus and embolden further investment, especially in areas such as energy storage and electrification. 

Keen Technical Solutions is uniquely positioned to help businesses access public investment by navigating the maze of grants and rebates, handling every element of a project from concept to completion and beyond; our energy maintenance services keep your energy environment up to date and ahead of advances in tech and efficiency. 

Let’s get started. Talk to a Keen Technical Solutions energy consultant today.

The Energy Crisis Comes Home: Rising Energy Prices Challenge The Recovery

There’s an energy crisis around the globe. The impact of changes to both raw oil supply, refinement facilities, and delivery of gas, natural gas, and oil have inched energy prices upwards around the country and the globe.

What is different about this energy crisis is that it comes at a time when raw material shortages are hampering the transition to renewable energy projects. Even as entire industries rush to adapt wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage technology to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, materials like nickel, lithium, and silver have meant that even those willing to invest are hamstrung by supply.

Fuel Prices and Diesel Fuel Prices: The Rise Started with a Fall

In the spring of 2020, oil prices plummeted as the world economy can to an abrupt halt. Supply so drastically outpaced demand that companies were paying to store it, leading to a brief period where some oil stocks were trading at a deficit.

In response, production came to a halt, though industry experts at the time were already forecasting a costly lag as demand increased along with broader economic recovery. The result: the prices spikes and shortage we’re experiencing today.

For example, gas prices in the US have increased by 55% in a year, now up to a national average price of $3.36, according to AAA.

Natural Gas Future Prices are on the Rise

Natural gas prices, an essential energy source as the nation moves toward the winter months, have more than doubled. In September of 2020, natural gas prices sat at $1.92 per cubic foot. Fast forward 12 months, and the price has reached $5.16.

Industry experts believe natural gas prices will hit $5.80/MMBtu in the final months of 2021, possibly peaking in Q1 of 2022 at roughly $5.90. As supply catches up, that price should settle closer to the pre-pandemic price of $4.01.

EV and Renewable Energy Is Ready, But Supply Is Slowing Things Up

These price spikes have rightly encouraged many world leaders and businesses to move more aggressively in the transition to renewable energy. Supply chain issues have plagued what would otherwise have been an ideal time for investment in adopting renewable energy and expanded offerings for electric vehicles.

Supply chain issues for raw materials like nickel and aluminum have put the brakes on that move, however. The nickel and lithium required for the lithium-ion batteries that are integral to effective energy storage are in short supply. Combined with the well-publicized microchip shortage, and EVs are especially restricted from growth in the short term.

Long-Term Energy Forecast Remains Unchanged

Despite the supply chain issues, experts believe that the current energy crisis is even more proof of how costly relying on fossil fuels can be for industry, especially as natural disasters made more impactful by climate change wreak havoc on production and refining crude.

The bottom line is the bottom line: renewable energy is less expensive and more reliable than fossil fuels, and the transition to sustainable energy will accelerate alongside supply chain improvements and both public and private investment.

Learn More with Keen Technical Solutions

Adapt to new energy challenges in your industry by investing in energy efficiency and renewables. From saving tens of thousands per year in facility upgrades to creating your own microgrid, Keen Technical Solutions combing expert consultation and experienced skilled workers to make the incremental changes that will set your business up for a bright future. Contact us today to get started!

Graphic and logo over a mountain bike trail with drumset in woods.

Make It Stick with Keen Technical Solutions and the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge

This year, Make It Stick is a bigger party than ever before. For nearly a decade now, Keen Technical Solutions has trucked in drums, speakers, and a party atmosphere to the top of one of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge toughest climbs. While Make It Stick may not be Alpe d’Huez, it comes just as the legs start to tire and big things start to happen in the fight for a top spot for both age group racers and the pros.

Make It Stick…and Win!

We’re partnering with the Iceman crew to make it count when you Make It Stick. This year, we’ll find the fastest amateur Strava time for the segment and reward the top men’s and women’s time with some cool prizes. Make sure you post your ride by Sunday, November 7, and if you have the fastest ascent of Make It Stick, you could win:

  • A coupon for Bell’s Iceman Cometh merchandise
  • KEEN logo gear
  • And a free entry for the 2022 event

Current Top Times

That’s a lot of motivation, but you’re going to need it to be in the mix. At the moment, the top time is a tie between Pro class rider Jorden Wakeley and 2019 champ Alexey Vermeulen, with 47 seconds. It’s worth noting that the fastest time on an actual race day comes from Spencer Paxson all the way back in 2016. That’s the same year the fastest women’s time was set by Kaitlyn Vanias, when she posted a 1:03, three seconds faster than Chloe Woodrufff on the day.

About Keen Technical Solutions

Our company is dedicated to finding energy efficiency solutions that will save businesses money and save the planet, too. We work in HVAC, insulation, sustainable development, energy-efficient cultivation, and any industry to build more sustainable practices and facilities. From cannabis cultivation to industrial microgrids, as well as simply sourcing efficient light fixtures, we provide energy solutions that make a difference.

Learn more about Keen Technical Solutions and contact us today to speak with an expert in your industry.

Exterior multi colored painted wall with HVAC vents

Commercial HVAC Services

Commercial HVAC Services

Breathe Safely with Commerical HVAC Service

Commercial heating and cooling are a vital part of keeping your business running smoothly. Keep your team comfortable and your work environment productive with effect commercial HVAC installation, repair, and replacement. Commercial HVAC services that you can count out take the stress out of seasonal changes in heating and cooling functions.

Keen Technical Solutions also provides businesses with regular HVAC maintenance to prevent costly breakdowns that require expensive, time-consuming repairs.

Schedule a conversation with Keen or call us today at (231) 421-3175.

Exterior multi colored painted wall with HVAC vents

Commercial HVAC maintenance and repairs take a different skill set and experience. We’ve worked with some of the most modern and technologically advanced commercial HVAC systems around. Our experience in a number of industries, from hospitality to industrial to refrigeration, puts our team in a position to serve any customers. Count on Keen to handle your maintenance needs and your emergency HVAC repairs.

Keen Technical Solutions offers comprehensive commercial heating, ventilation, and air condition services, including:

  • Commercial AC repair
  • Commercial furnace repair
  • Commercial AC replacement
  • Commercial furnace replacement

HVAC You Can Count On

Keen Technical Solutions support local businesses with regular, scheduled maintenance as well as emergency HVAC repairs 24/7. We’ll work with you to source, transport, install, and maintain your furnace, air conditioning unit, and adjust your ventilation system to optimize airflow and save you money.

HVAC Energy Efficiency

Too many businesses don’t think about HVAC as an opportunity to lower energy costs. Our experienced technicians build energy efficiency improvements into every repair and can help business owners make informed decisions about purchasing energy-efficient HVAC equipment and systems to lower long-term energy expenses and reduce their carbon footprint. We can help you identify the best energy-efficient HVAC system for your facility and get it installed right.

Learn more about Keen Technical Solutions commercial HVAC systems, as well as other energy-efficient solutions to help you meet your sustainability goals.

Take the opportunity to schedule a conversation and learn more about how Keen Technical Solutions is saving the world and saving businesses money.

Hand on door handle opening to a hotel room

Energy Efficiency in Hotels: An Opportunity To Save

The hospitality industry faces many energy challenges. Energy conservation affects the bottom line of any business, but in a field that requires heavily on a sterling reputation, green initiatives can often be the decisive factor for guests choosing where to stay or where to host their next event or conference.

Today, travelers are informed and educated on the environmental efforts of the business they patronize. In such a competitive industry, making your sustainability efforts known is an extension of the efforts you make to save money and save energy. In many ways, sharing your environmental focus can help to push the whole industry forwards.

Energy Saving Opportunities in Hospitality

Energy efficiency in hotels comes down to three big opportunities:

  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Hot water
  • Lighting

Overall, energy efficiency initiatives and updates in older, less efficient facilities can save substantial amounts of energy and associated costs. A comprehensive hospitality energy audit forecasts a 30-50% overall energy reduction, with HVAC and hot water expected to save 20% per year and lighting roughly 30%.

As hotels look to measure the benefits, they can get granular. By saving energy, hotels can save make an additional $1.35 on their daily room rate when they make these energy investments.

Hotel Energy Assessment

To get started, Keen Technical Solutions begins a hospitality energy assessment with a thorough in-person audit of the facility. This can take hours or days to complete, analyzing the entire property to look for energy-saving opportunities.

Energy Billing and Data Collection

Numbers don’t lie. By looking at several years’ worth of energy bills and compiling the data, we can create a holistic view of energy use and experience annually, seasonally, and how each additional guest contributes to the total. We’ll look at how those three main energy segments contribute to energy costs and create a list of recommendations.

Hotel Energy Efficiency Upgrades

We don’t just tell you what you should do. Our team includes a full team of technicians to make the changes necessary to meet your company’s green initiative. From upgrading lighting fixtures room by room or implementing a Combined Heat and Power (CHP), we implement all of the solutions we recommend to our own exacting standards.

Our micro CHP installation with A.O. Smith and the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa was one of our most successful projects and just one example of focusing on providing solutions for any industry to make strides toward a more sustainable future.

Ready to learn how Keen Technical Solutions can make an impact on your hospitality business? Let’s talk.